MAnufacturing of CuRved Objects via Path-desIgn of cuSTom-shAped toolS

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BCAM principal investigator: Michael Barton
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BCAM principal investigator: Amaia Calleja
Reference: PID2019-104488RB-I00
Coordinator: BCAM - Basque Center for Applied Mathematics
Duration: 2020 - 2023
Funding agency: MINECO - Projects R&D&i - Challenges 2019
Type: National Project
Status: Ongoing Project


MACROPISTAS aims at questioning of few decades of traditional paradigms in 5-axis flank CNC machining by performing cutting-edge research in geometric modeling, mathematics, and manufacturing. Traditionally, the milling tool for flank (aka side or peripheral) milling is taken as an input and typically the tool is a cylinder or cone. However, using these predefined tools is highly inefficient, as they do not consider the geometry, typically curved, of the designed object. We believe that this paradigm has to be changed from the very ground and with the state-of-the-art mathematical and modeling tools, we can consider the shape of the tool as a variable to design an optimal set of tools and their 3D motions such that they comfort best the curved geometry of the to-be-machined object. The main goal of MACROPISTAS is to incorporate the optimal geometry of the milling tool into the whole manufacturing process to make the process faster and consequently cheaper. Consider, for example, a turbine blade whose total price (material + manufacturing) is tens of thousands of Euros, and that is flank-milled using traditional (on-market) tools for several days. In contrast, with custom-shaped tools, whose price is in the range of few tens of Euros, we can achieve the same or even higher accuracy for a fraction of time because we are able to approximate complicated geometries of the input surface with only few envelopes of the tool within the highest machining standards of a few micrometers. That is, these wide and large milling paths of the tool, alias MACROPISTAS, can cover the majority of the surface within very high accuracy and therefore reduce the flank-milling time considerably. MACROPISTAS proposes interdisciplinary research that will combine geometric modelling and motion planning, including fluid flow simulations around the custom-shaped tools, followed by manufacturing of the optimal ones, and finalized by physical realizations and its subsequent validation. The results of this project will lead to scientific-technological development that impacts 2B/year CAD and 24B/year tool manufacturing European markets, and are expected to speed up the machining process of flank CNC machining by up to 50%.

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